Although people of all ages, races and intellectual capacities can experience dental fear, individuals with learning disabilities like autism may be more susceptible to this type of anxiety. Therefore, two educators with different specialties recently collaborated to form a new dental program that may help autistic children build better oral hygiene habits and ease them into visits with their care providers.
According to an article published in the Florida Sun-Sentinel, special education teacher Wanda Malave asked Kerry Flynn, an associate professor of Dental Health Services at Palm Beach State College, to allow some of her aspiring dentists and hygienists to come teach the local high school students who have learning disabilities how to properly care for their teeth.
"Many of my students are afraid of the dentist because of issues steaming from their intellectual disabilities. Some of my students have issues with touch, noise and textures in their mouth; for some they just won't open their mouth for the dentist," Malave told the newspaper.
The pair of educators said that after a certain time, the autistic students became familiar with dental products and were less reluctant toward professional care.
The American Dental Association recommends that anyone who has dental anxiety bring a portable music player to their appointments to drown out the ominous sound of drills.
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